2021 Retail & Manufacturing Workshop

    Think you've got a handle on the low hanging fruit in retail & manufacturing applications?

    Join the UofT Robotics community on November 8th for a one-day virtual symposium with members from across Canada’s automation ecosystem, from manufacturing to e-commerce.

    In this highly-focused, single-track workshop, you'll discover the cutting edge of AI robotics, discuss common challenges, and strategize with researchers and industry partners as we close the gap between shop floor reality and practical robot and data platforms in retail and manufacturing applications.


    To remain globally competitive, manufacturing and retail must be systemically robust -- both online and instore.

    However this level of integration requires a multifunctional technology stack that is capable of everything from machine tending, kitting, receiving, sorting, storage and retrieval, packaging, inventory and store management, and last mile delivery.

    Our keynote speakers will explore what it takes to develop and deploy integrated robotic systems in real world retail and manufacturing environments.

    Matt Mason

    Matt Mason

    Chief Scientist at Berkshire Grey

    Keynote 1 @10:05: Robotics, E-commerce, and Warehouse Automation at Berkshire Grey

    This talk tells the Berkshire Grey story, from its founding in 2013 to its IPO earlier this year — the first robotics IPO since iRobot over 15 years ago.  Berkshire Grey produces automated systems for e-commerce order fulfillment, parcel sortation, store replenishment, and related operations in warehouses, distribution centers, and in the back ends of stores.  The talk will discuss the commercial opportunity, the technology and solutions developed by Berkshire Grey, and discuss the challenges of warehouse automation.

    Read Bio >
    Pieter Abbeel, EECS

    Pieter Abbeel

    Director of Berkeley Robot Learning Lab

    Keynote 2 @2:30: A New Generation of Robots, Powered by AI

    Industrial robots have been around for decades.  But traditional automation relies on pre-programmed motions, limiting its applicability.  I will describe some of the recent advances in AI that have the potential to enable the next generation of robotics, where robots learn to react to the environment and situation they are in.  Specifically, I will describe some of the salient advances in computer vision, self-supervised learning and reinforcement learning that could bring about a revolution to the applicability of robotics across many industries, including logistics, e-commerce fulfillment, recycling, agriculture, construction, and ultimately service industries and home robots.  I will also take a deeper dive into the latest advances in AI Robotics in logistics and fulfillment, which we are pioneering at Covariant.

    Read Bio >

    Faculty Talks

    The confluence of deep learning, computer vision and robot learning is accelerating progress in robot manipulation, bringing applications such as object handling and service robotics within close reach.

    Our faculty will share the latest research and technical insights that are pushing the envelope on what can be achieved in practical robot and data platforms.

    Panel Discussions

    Demand is growing for robots that can learn to perform increasingly complex tasks alongside human workers and customers in hybrid environments. Yet several key technical and socio-economic challenges remain unsolved.

    Join us as we discuss common challenges and strategize with researchers and industry partners on how to close the gap between shop floor reality and practical robot and data platforms in retail and manufacturing applications. 

    Opportunities & Challenges in Industrial Applications

    Opportunities & Challenges in Industrial Applications

    Panelists: Dr. Matt Mason, Berkshire Grey; Professors Igor Gilitschenski, Angela Schoellig, and Jonathan Kelly
    Moderator: Professor Animesh Garg
    Translational Technology & Benchmarks - How Can Industry Partner With Academia

    Translational Technology & Benchmarks - How Can Industry Partner With Academia?

    Panelists: Professor Pieter Abbeel, UC Berkley, Professors Steve Waslander, Animesh Garg, Goldie Nejat, and Hani Naguib
    Moderator: Professor Jonathan Kelly

    The Ocado Best Poster Award

    Network with UofT's top graduate scholars in robotics in our graduate showcase and poster session.

    Graduate researchers with expertise in robotics for retail and manufacturing applications will give lightening talks on their latest published research, and will be available for networking during our 45-minute lunch time poster session.

    Interested students should reach out to Joan DaCosta for more information on how to register for the showcase.

    Trevot Ablett

    Trevor Ablett

    Learning from Guided Play: A Scheduled Hierarchical Approach for Improving Exploration in Adversarial Imitation Learning

    Yun-Chun Chen

    Yun-Chun Chen

    Neural Shape Mating: Self-Supervised Object Assembly with Adversarial Shape Priors

    Aaron Hao Tan

    Aaron Hao Tan

    Deep Reinforcement Learning for Decentralized Multi-Robot Exploration with Macro Actions


    Mohamed Khodeir

    Learning to Search in Task and Motion Planning with Streams

    Michael Pham-Hung

    Michael Pham-Hung

    A Robot Architecture Using ContextSLAM to Find Products in Unknown Crowded Retail Environments

    Cody Reading

    Cody Reading

    Categorical Depth Distribution Network for Monocular 3D Object Detection

    Haoyu Xiong

    Haoyu Xiong

    Learning by Watching: Physical Imitation of Manipulation Skills from Human Videos


    Poster Session & Student Awards Headline Sponsorship

    Ocado Technology are pioneers solving some of the toughest technological challenges of our age using cutting-edge AI, ML, Robotics and beyond.  The Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) is an end-to-end ecommerce, fulfilment, and logistics platform that powers smart online grocery businesses.  This technology is changing the way the world shops.

    Learn more

    Partner Spotlight

    NVIDIA’s invention of the GPU sparked the growth of the PC gaming market and has redefined AI, computer graphics, high-performance computing, and more for trillion-dollar industries such as transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing.

    Learn more

    Promotional Partner Sponsorship

    Epson Robots is a global leader in PC-controlled precision factory automation.  Building on a four-decade heritage, Epson Robots delivers solutions for precision assembly and material handling applications in the aerospace, appliance, automotive, biotechnology, consumer product, electronics, food processing, medical device, pharmaceutical, plastics, semiconductor, and telecommunication industries.

    Learn more

    We have a variety of sponsorship opportunities designed to help you with your promotional, recruiting and partner development needs. Email Joan DaCosta (joan.dacosta [at] utoronto.ca) for more info on how to put your sponorship dollars to work.

    Program Schedule

    Monday November 8, 2021
    10:00Opening Remarks
    10:00 - 10:15Faculty Talk: Igor Gilitschenski
    10:15 - 10:30Industry Spotlight: TBA
    10:30 - 10:45Faculty Talk: Angela Schoellig
    10:45 - 11:00Faculty Talk: Jonathan Kelly
    11:00 - 12:00Keynote: Matt Mason, Berkshire Grey
    12:00 - 13:00Panel 1: Opportunities & Challenges in Industrial Applications
    13:00 - 13:15Graduate Spotlight
    13:15 - 14:00Graduate Poster Session + Lunch
    14:00 - 14:15Faculty Talk: Goldie Nejat & Hani Naguib
    14:15 - 14:30Industry Spotlight: Nvidia
    14:30 - 14:45Faculty Talk: Animesh Garg
    14:45 - 15:00Faculty Talk: Steve Waslander
    15:00 - 16:00Keynote: Pieter Abbeel, UC Berkeley
    16:00 - 17:00Panel 2: Translational Technology & Benchmarks - How Can Industry Partner With Academia?
    17:00 - 17:10Awards Announcement & Closing Remarks
    17:10 - 18:00Social Hour


    Animesh Garg

    Animesh Garg

    Workshop Chair


    Joan DaCosta

    Sponsorship & Event Management


    Hallie Siegel

    Brand Strategy

    Aidan Samuels

    Aidan Samuels

    Content Specialist

    Student Volunteers

    Philippe Nadeau

    Philippe Nadeau

    PhD Student

    Jun Yang

    Jun Yang

    PhD Student

    Ready to resgister? Hurry before tickets run out.

    Registration via Eventbrite.

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